‘The Americans’ Actress Holly Taylor on Realizing Her Dream ‘For Paige to Kick Butt’

Holly-Taylor The Americans Portrait
Annie Tritt for Variety

Holly Taylor doesn’t portray the average 16-year-old girl in “The Americans.”

As Paige Jennings, the daughter of two KGB spies, she must come to terms with her lineage. The fifth season of the FX series finds her getting more involved in the action, and one step closer to choosing her own future.

Taylor speaks with Variety about the character’s growth and what viewers can expect from the show’s final two seasons.

What originally attracted you to “The Americans”?

At the time I was auditioning for quite a few things. It was pilot season, and it was overwhelming. I actually forgot about [“The Americans”], because they didn’t contact me for a while after I sent my audition in. When they did contact me, I thought there was something very different about the show. Keri Russell seemed really nice, and it just seemed like a smart, good project.

One of your executive producers, Joseph Weisberg, is an ex-CIA officer. Do you feel that’s helped add a layer of authenticity to the show? 

I think it probably has. But Joe and [executive producer] Joel Fields are so dedicated to the project and to that time period, I feel even if he wasn’t in the CIA he would still speak to it. Still, when [Joe] did join the CIA, they made him swear he wasn’t just joining to write about it, so it’s kind of ironic that he ended up doing exactly what he swore he wasn’t going to do.

Your character has gone through a lot of growth and change over the course of the show. What do you want to see Paige do in the final seasons? 

One of the things I’m proud of is that Paige is a really strong character like her mom, Elizabeth [played by Russell], and despite some of the breakdowns she’s had or moments of weakness — just because her life has had so much turmoil — she’s still able to come out strong and find her own voice. I’d love for her to come into her own and start to help her parents out a little and maybe understand where they’re coming from more.

What are you most excited for viewers to see in the fifth season? 

I’m really excited for people to see all the self-defense training with Elizabeth. I think that was a really cool part of the season, and it’s something that I never thought that my character would actually do. It was always a dream of mine for Paige to kick butt. I feel like people can get impatient with how she takes in all of this new information she’s learning, but I think she grows a lot this year, so I hope that people will be a little more compassionate toward her.

What you didn’t know about Holly Taylor 

Age: 19 Hometown: Middleton, Nova Scotia Favorite TV Show: The OfficeFavorite Travel Destination: Saint Martin Favorite Social Media: Pinterest 

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